Marinated Olives with Orange and Rosemary

Clear glass dish with marinated olives with orange and rosemary on a white, green, and red striped tablecloth.

Do you need a quick, dare I say effortless, appetizer for your next gathering? Something less formal and more of a help-yourself-my-lovely-friends ordeal, but still sophisticated enough that it looks elegant decanted into a few pretty dishes? Look no further dear reader, this bright little recipe lets the olives do the work with the help of a few vibrant additions to the overall look and taste. Rosemary and orange zest are old friends in this recipe, seemingly oddball in combination with the olives but somehow it just works. Give the olives at least a day to marinate in the fridge and then put them out for your guests in a few well-chosen beautiful dishes (remember to include a little container for the pits as well) and let them have at it.

marinated olives with orange and rosemary:

About 2 cups of mixed olives, with pits (reserve the brine for storing any leftover olives)

2 or 3 big sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 orange, coarsely zested and juiced

3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

Olive oil

Freshly cracked black pepper

In a large bowl or container stir together the olives, rosemary, orange zest and juice, garlic, and a few good glugs of olive oil. Give the mix a generous addition of freshly cracked black pepper, stir well and try an olive to make sure the flavours are on the right track. Allow to marinate overnight or for at least 12 hours and up to 48 hours, store any leftover olives in the reserved brine (these make an excellent midnight snack as you stand in the front of the open fridge pondering what your real snack will be).

And speaking of midnight snacks, cold roasted radishes dipped in sea salt make an excellent last-minute addition to your day…

Roasted pink radishes on a white plate.

Bowery Electric provides the ideal downtempo soundtrack to mulling over your late night eating habits; I should know, this album has served me well through my important snack food decision making for the last 20 years or so.

Bowery Electric – Empty Words

Avocado Toast with Pomegranates and Chillies

Toast on an orange plate topped with avocado, pomegranate seeds, and red chillies.

This particular version of avocado toast is such a bright and happy way to start your day. Outside was a solitary sheet of grey today, it was raining so hard that large pools were flooding at intersections all of the leaves that were left in the trees are now firmly littered all over the street. I try to keep my writing space and general home environment sunny and I’m a huge fan of big pops of vivid colour to bring a certain radiant ambience to an otherwise neutral room. Meals like these are an extension of that design principle, they serve to bring light into a dark day. The chillies are what really make these flavours all come together, its addition was inspired by one of my favourite fancy cheese condiments (the Pomegranate Hot Pepper Jelly from Artisan Edibles). Don’t skimp out on the salt either, you need it to complete the holy trifecta of sweet, salty, and spicy!

avocado toast with pomegranate and chillies:

Really simple: mash one avocado and spread it over two pieces of toast (I like whole wheat because it’s nutty and sweet on its own). Scatter a generous amount of pomegranate seeds over the avocado and finish with dried red chillies and kosher or sea salt (Maldon salt is particularly nice to have for this one). Press down lightly so that the pomegranates don’t roll off as you’re trying to eat it. Enjoy right away while the toast is still warm.

Stack of colourful crochet blankets.

I was so sad to hear about Carey Lander’s passing. I’ve always loved Camera Obscura, ever since I first heard their debut album Underachievers Please Try Harder. Her voice was so clear and luminous, like a shining projection of happiness over an underlying sadness. This remains one of my favourite songs ever; it’s so simple and hopeful, a moving tribute to the future that lies ahead.

Camera Obscura – Eighties Fan

Autumn Salad with Roasted Golden Beets and Cauliflower

Plate full of salad with roasted cauliflower and golden beets.

I’m entirely in love with the autumn we’ve had in Vancouver this year. It actually feels like a season of its own and not just an immediate onset of grey and never-ending rain (which I do love, I’m not complaining), but a breathtaking and bright extended autumn. It feels like I’m back in Ontario for my favourite time of year, just without the quiet threat of impending snow and cold. This warm salad is an ode to the seasonal fruits and vegetables of autumn, its bright colours mimic the foliage of October in Vancouver. It’s a vibrant contrast between green pine trees and palm trees against the firework display of deciduous leaves, often nestled delicately amongst the former. You could use turnip, parsnip, sweet potatoes, yams, or carrots in place of the golden beets and the apple could easily be a pear. Go ahead and use regular beets but beware their shocking hue, your salad will go from multicoloured to deep red as soon as you toss it. I also like this salad the next day wrapped up in warm pita bread or naan with a drizzle of hummus that has been thinned with tahini and lemon juice.

autumn salad with roasted golden beets and cauliflower:

5 golden beets, scrubbed and quartered

1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into small segments

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Half an apple, I like Pink Lady or Honeycrisp

2 small stalks of celery, cut into thin quarter moons

About a third of a red onion, diced and then soaked in juice of 1 lime and water for at least 15 minutes

2 cups of baby spinach, torn

Half of a pomegranate

for the dressing:

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 1/2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

1 Tbsp. honey or 1 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. dried chilli flakes

Freshly cracked pepper and kosher salt to taste

1. Toss the beets with olive oil and generous pinch of salt and roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Add the cauliflower pieces and another drizzle of olive oil, roast for another 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to come to room temperature.

2. Put all of the salad dressing ingredients into a jar and shake vigorously. Set aside.

3. Cut the beets into thin slices and combine them with the cauliflower, apple, celery, red onion, spinach, and pomegranate seeds in a large salad bowl. Add the dressing and toss well to coat the salad. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving while still warm.

Who knew a song about a dying goldfish could be so pretty? Something meaningful and nostalgic for a warm day on the couch in front of the fire.

Pinback – Penelope

Acorn Squash and Brown Rice Crockpot Risotto

Serving dish full of acorn squash risotto with pomegranates.

Today was a perfect example of why I love my crockpot: I can put everything in it and then have a cozy afternoon nap. This isn’t a true risotto by any means, but it has all of comforting properties of a proper stovetop version. One acorn squash is the perfect amount for this recipe, but any other firm squash would work well and the yam could be substituted with the equivalent amount in diced carrots. The pomegranates are an added colour and nutrition boost, providing some crunch in an otherwise very creamy risotto. If I’m home I’ll generally have it in the crockpot three to four hours, but I’ve left it cooking while I’m at work on low for eight hours by adding an additional half cup of vegetable stock to the recipe. I like to serve this with a really crisp chopped salad full of crunchy ingredients like radishes, fennel, romaine hearts, and iceberg lettuce.

acorn squash and brown rice crockpot risotto:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 small onion, diced

2 stalks of celery, finely chopped

1 medium sized acorn squash, diced

1 small yam, peeled and diced

3/4 cup of brown rice

4 cups of vegetable stock

3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

Kosher salt to taste

2 Tbsp. pomegranate seeds

1. Soften the onion and celery in olive oil over medium heat until just beginning to brown. Add to crockpot.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the crockpot, stir to combine. Set the crockpot to cook on high for 3 to 4 hours, checking to make sure it doesn’t overcook and become dry. Serve with extra fresh thyme and pomegranate seeds.

How can you not feel happy? Frantic, spirited, and just the right amount of twee for a misty Sunday afternoon.

Air Miami – Definitely Beachy / Bubble Shield (Reprise)